My Adventures in Marketing: The Autobiography of Philip Kotler




Marketing is about identifying and meeting human and social needs.  One of the shortest definitions of marketing is “meeting needs profitably.”  The American Marketing Association offers the following definition: “Marketing is the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large.”

Marketing management is therefore the art and science of choosing target markets and getting, keeping and growing customers through creating, delivering and communicating superior customer value.

marketer is someone who seeks a response – attention, a purchase, a vote, a donation – from another party, called the prospect. There are many things that can be marketed.  They include not only goods and services, but also events, experiences, persons, places, properties, organizations, information, ideas and causes.

Today, everyone markets something.  Knowing how to market is the challenge.  Marketing can be learned in an hour but takes a lifetime to master.

My autobiography is now available in paperback on Amazon.  The book is my view of the world – seeing the world through marketing eyes.

Here’s what you’ll find in the book:

  • Why the lack of a strong liberal education has led to so many problems in the world today, and what we need to do about it (p.18)
  • The question Professors Paul Samuelson, Robert Solow and Charles Myers asked me for my dissertation defense (p.22)
  • How I met Nancy at a  “jollyup” (p.23)
  • India and my dissertation on labor economics: how I failed to prove my hypothesis (p.28)
  • the birth of marketing decision-making – using a model-building approach (p.34)
  • the shift from economics to marketing – joining Northwestern (p.35)
  • writing Marketing Management (p.41)
  • my observations on the origin and evolution of marketing (p.45)
  • applying marketing outside the business world (p.48)
  • the emergence of social marketing (p.51)
  • criticism of marketing (p.57)
  • contributions of marketing (p.59)
  • how to market places – the story of Bilbao, Spain (p. 61)
  • the evolution of political marketing (p.64)
  • marketing museums (p.67)
  • marketing the performing arts (p.71)
  • marketing religion (p.74)
  • my meeting with Peter Drucker in Claremont (p.83)
  • board meetings – how to simulate competition (p.87)
  • marketing and fighting recessions (p.88)
  • growing in a period of slow growth – 8 strategies for growth (p.91)
  • managing non-profits (p.93)
  • improving government performance (p.98)
  • the scourge of corruption (p.103)
  • the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility CSR (p.106)
  • conscious capitalism (p.110)
  • the curse of poverty (p.114)
  • fighting the rise of income inequality (p.117)
  • how to handle national disillusionment in an age of demagogues (p.119)
  • the principles of demarketing (p.124)
  • launching the World Marketing Summit (p.128)
  • Japan: decision-making the Japanese way (p.132)
  • My experiences in Japan (p.136)
  • How I started collecting glass art (p.145)
  • My love affair with Sweden (p.151)
  • Indonesia and building the new Museum of Marketing (p.155)
  • Thailand and The Marketing of Nations (p.162)
  • Brazil: the 5 S’s (p.165)
  • Mexico and the creation of Kidzania (p.169)
  • Italy and the “flowering of human excellence” (p.173)
  • Economics and Art of Nation Building (p.177)
  • The promise and opportunity of Mega-Cities (p.179)
  • Chautauqua, NY: a cultural oasis (p.182)
  • Paradise found: Longboat Key, Florida (p.186)
  • Marketing celebrity: fame and visibility (p.190)
  • Innovation and disruption: how to win in the Digital Age (p.196)
  • The future is digital (p.200)
  • The 4 failings of Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs) (p.202)
  • Brand Activism: the next stage of branding (p.203)
  • How I returned to Economics and the role of Capitalism (p.212)
  • The 14 shortcomings of Capitalism (p.213)
  • The Decline of Democracy (p.216)
  • Can American Democracy survive Trump? (p.221)
  • Saving Healthcare: It’s time for Single-Payer System (p.225)
  • How to Market Peace (p.238)
  • What would really Make America Great Again? (p.241)
  • Learning from the Marketing Associations (p.246)
  • The Future of Marketing (p.255)
  • Many friends and mentors (p.270)
  • Nancy and me (p.279)



“First, he (Philip Kotler) has done more than any other writer or scholar to promote the importance of marketing, transforming it from a peripheral activity, bolted on to the more “important” work of production. Second, he continued a trend started by Peter Drucker, shifting emphasis away from price and distribution to a greater focus on meeting customers’ needs and on the benefits received from a product or service. Third, he has broadened the concept of marketing from mere selling to a more general process of communication and exchange, and has shown how marketing can be extended and applied to charities, arts organizations, political parties and many other non-commercial situations.” – Financial Times

“There’s only one name in marketing: Phil Kotler. His latest may be his best-a summa that captures the best of his insights, as original today as when he first took pen in hand, forty years ago.” – Tom Peters, author of In Search of Excellence

“What Peter Drucker is to management, Philip Kotler is to marketing. Kotler’s ideas are endlessly interesting, relevant, and ahead of the times.” – Al Ries, author of The Fall of Advertising and the Rise of PR

“Phil Kotler is the reigning sage of marketing, with vast knowledge, penetrating insight, and a fabulous ability to synthesize a complex topic into truthful simplicity. A master teacher, Kotler continues to shape the minds of marketing leaders around the world-and through his writing, he can shape your mind, too.” – Jim Collins, author of Good to Great

“An unrivalled opportunity to spend quality time with one of the leading marketing thinkers in the world.” – Leonard L. Berry, Texas A&M University

“An amazing guide to marketing excellence, with original and powerful advice…from one of the greatest minds in marketing today.” – Kevin J. Clancy, Chairman and CEO, Copernicus

“A masterful job by the master thinker about marketing…The latest thinking on all the enduring issues of how to find, win, and keep customers.”  – George S. Day, Wharton School, U. of Pennsylvania

“Everyone says we need really new products, but Kotler actually gives the reader effective and practical concepts and tools to create them based on thinking across rather than within markets.”  – Glen L. Urban, Sloan School, M.I.T.

 “To many marketing students and marketing practitioners around the world, ‘marketing’ and ‘Kotler’ are two synonymous concepts…No other single individual has influenced the marketing field more than Philip Kotler.” – Torger Reve, Wil Wilhelmsen Chair in Strategy and Professor of Marketing, BI Norwegian School of Management

“Philip Kotler is again leading the way in strategic marketing with timely insight into a transformational period.  Marketing 3.0 makes a compelling case for the competitive benefits of tapping into the human spirit to engage consumers.” – Dennis Dunlap, past CEO, American Marketing Association


“With Phil Kotler’s many years of studying marketing, no one is better equipped at spotting marketing sins.” – Jack Trout, President, Trout & Partners Ltd.

“For more than three decades, Philip Kotler has been the authority on marketing for business grad students around the world.  Kotler has done more than probably anyone else to cement marketing’s reputation as a serious business discipline.” – Howard Rothman,

“Philip Kotler’s (1971) book, Marketing Decision Marking: A Model-Building Approach, initiated me into marketing modeling research. Given that there was hardly any marketing modeling literature in the 1970s, I found Kotler’s book exhilarating, and even now, I read it before writing any modeling article.” – Vijay Mahajan, holder of the John P. Harbin Centennial Chair in Business at McCombs School of Business, University of Texas at Austin.

“In the 1960s, Philip Kotler, with his definitive Principles of Marketing, gathered insights from economics, social science, and analytics and applied them to the marketing practice.  At the time, the ideas he espoused seemed really odd and new and not everyone agreed with his concepts. In time, every single one of his ideas became standard operating procedure for the marketing profession.  And his concepts stood the test of time for forty or so years. – Jon Wuebben, Future Marketing: Winning in the Prosumer Age, 2017